15 Essential Books for Ecommerce Business Founders

Reading is one of the most powerful shortcuts to becoming a master in a topic.

If you’re looking to master ecommerce then this list is for you!

The Snowball Creations team work with countless ecommerce founders and through a tonne of emails/calls and texts, we have curated your ultimate guide to the best books for e-commerce founders.

There are some very well-known and often cited works like Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller, as well as lesser-seen titles like Stuart Warner’s The Finance Book.

Why read these books?

These impactful titles can help you learn how to improve your conversion rates, increase your profits, negotiate fruitful e-commerce business relationships, get more insight from your analytics, automate your workflow, streamline your customer experience, and so much more.

Whether you’re a new business owner, or an experienced veteran with a successful business or five under your belt, this list of the best e-commerce books will have something insightful to learn.

Looking for a shorter free online guide instead?

Well you’re in luck!

Max Sinclair, our founder, put together that you can dig into: Google Ads Guide For Ecommerce

In a hurry? Here's the list:

Building a Story Brand

1. Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller

It’s the MVP of contenders for lists of best e-commerce books, and with good reason. This must-read book centres storytelling as foundational to an effective marketing strategy.

You know that your business has to maintain constant communication with its audience or risk falling into irrelevance. This book will change how you approach that communication.

Building a StoryBrand uses the seven universal elements of effective storytelling to help you breathe new life into how you connect with your customers.

He provides a proven route to a competitive advantage and the reasoning behind why people make the purchases they do.

Armed with this information, you can create more personal relationships with potential buyers which leads to lifelong brand loyalty.

Don’t Make Me Think: Revisited

2. Don’t Make Me Think: Revisited by Steve Krug

Software developer Steve Krug’s richly illustrated guide, Don’t Make Me Think, to more useable web design frequently makes lists of best e-commerce books, and it’s easy to see why.

Despite hailing from the distant past (2000), this is still known as one of the best books on web design and user experience.

This succinct book will help you transform your e-commerce store into a paragon of good web design, and it’s been updated for today’s internet with straightforward, actionable advice to streamline how your e-commerce site looks.

Steve Krug puts forth a very simple basic premise: visitors to your site should not have to think about anything.

When your visitors aren’t thinking, you can better control what they do when they arrive at your online store.

By focusing on ease of use and site optimization, you can reduce the friction that can lead to lost sales.

Everybody Writes by Ann Handley

3. Everybody Writes by Ann Handley

Very few aspects of an e-commerce business affect its revenue more than how it communicates with its customers.

Attracting customers to your online business and earning their loyalty is paramount, and yet brand messaging is often overlooked by books purporting to be go-to e-commerce guides.

Handley’s book covers everything messaging and copywriting, from SEO strategies to product listings.

Everybody Writes is one of the best marketing books for small business owners. It gives insights into an amazing content strategy and aids in delivering the right marketing messages.

This go-to e-commerce writing book will inject your communications to customers with style, clarity, and empathy.

Profit First for Ecommerce Sellers

4. Profit First for Ecommerce Sellers by Cyndi Thomason

Cyndi Thomason’s e-commerce book cuts the fluff and filler to focus on four key pain points many encounter when running an e-commerce business.

Her book will teach you to approach e-commerce businesses with a “profit first” mindset. This paves the way for long-term success and loyal customers.

Managing inventory, letting your business rely upon debt, understanding financial data, and maintaining focus are all struggles addressed by this book.

Once you get to grips with these issues, y

The Startup Way by Eric Ries

5. The Startup Way by Eric Ries

As a co-founder of The Lean Startup, Eric Ries is no stranger to the best e-commerce book roundups. Now he’s back with a revitalized vision of his guiding business principles in the book The Startup Way.

If you’re looking to break into the entrepreneur life, you should read this book.

Packed with examples of dramatic successful growth in companies of all sizes, it provides an invaluable go-to guide to anybody looking to succeed in the e-commerce industry.

Lost and Founder: The Mostly Awful, Sometimes Awesome Truth about Building a Tech Startup by Rand Fishkin

6. Lost and Founder by Rand Fishkin

The way the media portrays it, startup business is a fairy tale that leads to overnight success.

But it’s important to remember that that isn’t realistic. A good business that stands the test of time can take a while to build momentum.

Fishkin’s book is his refreshingly honest story about entrepreneurship, helping to paint an accurate picture of the potential pitfalls.

It stresses the importance of taking risks for potential growth and understanding that there will be ups and downs in startup life.


7. Atomic Habits by James Clear

Atomic Habits by James Clear is another frequent title on roundups of the best e-commerce books, despite not actually being about e-commerce, or even being an entrepreneur.

That’s because this must-read ultimate guide to changing habits with small and frequent adjustments is perfect for sculpting your mindset into that of a successful e-commerce business owner.

Many an entrepreneur has failed not because their website was poor or their technical knowledge about e-commerce wasn’t solid, but because they didn’t have the habits and behaviours to support their dreams.

An exploration of the psychology and science of small habits, it combines anecdotes from CEOs and Olympians with neuroscience to paint a picture of the success you can achieve with tiny habits.

This book is a must-read for entrepreneurs looking to change their mindset and build the best e-commerce businesses they can.

Digital Marketing by Dave Chaffey

8. Digital Marketing by Dave Chaffey and Fiona Ellis-Chadwick

If you want an e-commerce marketing book that’ll help you reach your dream customers, Digital Marketing is perfect. It provides a detailed look at digital marketing theories as well as solutions for e-commerce managers and insightful case studies.

This book can help you move beyond chasing vanity analytics and actually build relationships with your customers. 

Ecommerce Marketing by Chloë Thomas and Rytis Lauris

9. Ecommerce Marketing: How to Get Traffic That BUYS to your Website by Chloë Thomas and Rytis Lauris

Struggling to find success with your social media strategy? Are emails returning a subpar conversion rate? Chloë Thomas is a renowned expert who helps businesses grow their online sales and is the author of a book that answers these questions.

Her book on e-commerce marketing focuses on outlining the most effective strategies for increasing your store’s online marketing.

Her book will help you do more than get traffic and pad your analytics. By drawing on her own personal experience in customer persuasion and conversion optimization as well as client knowledge, Thomas gives you a road map to create highly convertible traffic acquisition models. An unmissable read if you’re struggling to get eyes on your products.

Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future

10. Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build The Future by Peter Thiel with Blake Masters

PayPal alum Peter Thiel’s Zero to One looks at future-proofing your company and ensuring that your business isn’t just a flash in the pan.

The book combines personal anecdotes with key business theories taught at Stanford to give a look into the way Thiel thinks and how his approach to business can help you shape the future of both your startup and the world.

Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It by Chris Voss

11.  Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as if Your Life Depended on It by Chris Voss

Another must-read book for e-commerce business owners that isn’t actually about e-commerce.

Negotiation is at the heart of every business owner’s success story. Negotiation is how you achieve more advantageous pricing and terms with your vendors. It’s how you navigate brand partnerships and create lasting relationships.

Despite being so essential, it’s a difficult skill to master, requiring a deep understanding of human behaviour.

Written by former FBI hostage negotiator Chris Voss, it provides excellent advice on negotiating and persuading, backed up by years of firsthand experience.

Read this book to get the most out of every business discussion you have.

The Finance Book: Understand the Numbers Even if You’re Not a Finance Professional

12. The Finance Book: Understand the Numbers Even if You’re Not a Finance Professional by Stuart Warner and Si Hussain

One of the most critical aspects of running a business is understanding your bottom line, and everything that affects it. Overhead costs, materials, taxes, and customer returns are all things that factor into your business’ chances of success.

This book provides a very approachable guide to financial literacy. It explains all the key financial managerial skills you’ll need to achieve success with your brand.

Automate and Grow: A Blueprint for Startups, Small and Medium Businesses to Automate Marketing, Sales and Customer Support

13. Automate and Grow: A Blueprint for Startups, Small and Medium Businesses to Automate Marketing, Sales and Customer Support by Michael Devellano

There’s a piece of advice that gets tossed around in some circles that says you have the same 24 hours in a day that Beyonce has. What this leaves out is that Beyonce surrounds herself with a rock star team she can delegate to.

You might not be at the point in your entrepreneurial journey where you can do the same, but you can simulate it with the SMB owner’s secret weapon: Automation.

Owners often struggle with store growth because they have limited resources. So they end up wasting time on repetitive, menial tasks when they could be dreaming up their next big thing.

Devellano’s book will help you automate time-consuming tasks such as customer service, a social media presence, sales funnels, and website admin.

This allows for an increased focus on high-value activities, like reading more books.

The Founder's Dilemmas: Anticipating and Avoiding the Pitfalls That Can Sink a Startup

14.  The Founder’s Dilemmas: Anticipating and Avoiding the Pitfalls That Can Sink a Startup by Noam Wasserman


This well-researched book from Harvard Business School professor Noam Wasserman asks founders to answer a simple yet incredibly difficult question:

What does success mean to you?

In Wasserman’s opinion, there are two main drivers: Money, and control over a company. But he also posits that these two goals are incompatible.

The studies which form the basis of this book showed that a founder who gave up control in the form of equity often built a more valuable company. However, those improved valuations only came when the founder was replaced with a professional CEO, as they tended to have more experience with growing a company.

It’s a treatise on the choice between money and power and what success means to entrepreneurs.

Deep Work by Cal Newport

15. Deep Work by Cal Newport

If you’re an online business owner, you likely already know how hard it is to carve out time to focus on your work. And indeed, being able to work without distraction on a cognitively difficult task, or deep work as it’s known, is an increasingly rare skill.

Whether it’s tweaking the copy on your website, combing the internet for intel on your competition or audience, or even just writing a newsletter for your customer base, if you can’t concentrate on these tasks you won’t do your best work.

Cal Newport’s Deep Work is one of the best books for relearning how to work uninterrupted in a world full of push notifications and urgent emails.

It combines captivating stories, like Carl Jung building a stone tower in the woods and the person that booked a round-trip flight to Tokyo just to write a book, with cultural criticism and surprising suggestions such as practicing being bored.

Put simply: developing and cultivating a deep work practice is one of the best decisions you can make in an increasingly distracted world and this book will point the way.

In Conclusion

Armed with this list of the best e-commerce books, you’re all set for your 2023 reading. These books can help you learn from the life experiences, successes, and failures of other successful e-commerce entrepreneurs by providing actionable things you can do today to change your mindset and realize your entrepreneurial dreams.

Or if you’re reading to learn how to improve your business’ growth strategies, working with professionals like Snowball Creations can pay off richly. We’ll work with you to build out entire sales funnels and get the best return on investment for your ad spend.

Get in touch to find out how we can help you implement the excellent advice found in these books, or if you’re unsure, you can start with our YouTube channel or our comprehensive guide to paid ads.

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